How useful is a warranty that comes with the camera? Does the warranty on the camera and lens vary? How about extended warranty, does it make sense to buy it? Read on to answer these questions and many more …
Warranty for cameras comes in two flavors from the manufacturers. The local warranty is applicable to the products that are purchased in the country of origin (have a documented proof of purchase within the country by way of a country-specific warranty card and a receipt). Worldwide warranty is the one that covers the equipment in whatever country the manufacturer has service centers, regardless of the country of purchase.
The simple explanation – What is a warranty?
The lengthy terms and conditions are written in the warranty policy from a legal point of view. Basically warranty is a legal written guarantee provided by the manufacturer. For us, who don’t want to get into details of these, here are two simple things that are explained in the warranty-
- Warranty covers defects which can be attributed to the manufacturers.
- It does not cover anything that appears to be a case of carelessness in the hands of photographers. Accessories are usually not covered in the warranty. Normal wear and tear is also excluded.
When is the warranty refused
There are times when warranty is refused. Sometimes this happens quite frequently. This is a list that I have compiled with the help of some friendly folks from different service centers (of various brands) –
- Out of warranty – Believe it or not, this is the most common reason why consumers don’t get the benefit of warranty. This should have been obvious but it seems that most people do not know when the warranty ends for their goods.
- Missing or Incomplete documentation – Warranty card without dealer details and missing proof of purchase are common examples. If the documents are not complete, the service provider has all the rights to refuse a claim.
- Damage done during transport – This is where the photographer is not at fault but neither is the manufacturer. Another reason why I prefer not to purchase expensive electronic items online. Depending on the company involved and circumstances of damage, this can either be solved easily or may even involve a long legal battle.
- Damage which can be attributed to the user/photographer – This includes damage from fall, natural elements (even if the item is claimed to be weather sealed) like rain etc.
When the authorized service centers play games
Service centers are there to provide service. These provide jobs to the people working there and a functional service center is a way these people can keep their jobs secure. So, trust me when I say, these service centers try their best to help people out. However, there are times when they do refuse genuine requests and which the customers can’t even argue with.
According to the service center insiders who confided with me, they deny service when people are rude or when they misbehave. The reasons they state can be quite simple as ‘signs of misuse found in the camera’ or ‘short-circuit due to water droplets’. So, be nice to them. They will go out of the way to help.
Also remember, the front desk people are not the ones handling the service, the service people are not direct employees of the company, the company does not provide service (the companies outsource it), and you as a customer do not own the service center of the company (in most cases).
In general, the people are nice and helpful. I remember an incident when I was in Delhi. My camera sensor got really dirty and I did not have any cleaning aids with me. I also did not have my warranty card and purchase proof (who carries it all the time?). The service center there cleaned the camera for me for no cost at all and also changed the shutter release button. All I did was to tell them my problem about dust and request their help. The team there put in some efforts and pulled the ownership information from the registration that I had filled in sometime back on their site and the purchase documents were traced using the serial number and the dealer. The shutter release button was also changed because it was not as smooth as it should have been in their opinion. Would they have put in so much of effort had I been rude or demanding?
I do not believe in it. If the camera has any manufacturing defects, these show up quite early and well within the usual warranty period. Electronics do fail but then I prefer to pay the repair cost rather than blindly buying extended warranty. If the extended warranty provides any value additions then it may be worth a consideration. Value additions like cleaning of the camera or lens, calibration of autofocus can be useful especially if the cost of warranty equals cost of these services, which happens to be the case sometimes. For those of you considering the extended warranty, did you know that the price for it can be easily negotiated, especially at time of initial purchase itself?
When to claim warranty?
For a new product, if there seems to be a problem, first consult the user manual. Most of the initial problems seem to be related to the understanding of the camera or lens. If the problem seems to be genuine, search the internet and see if it is being reported by others too. A lot common problems in new cameras and lenses are experienced by many users and are therefore discussed in forums and various other sites.
Taking the item to the service center does not do any harm, even if you feel that the problem sounds unconvincing. Let the service center people be the best judge. They can sometimes catch problems even when it is just starting to emerge.
What service centers are not
Service centers are not repair centers. Read that again and let it sink into your mind.
The people over there are not experienced and not usually motivated to repair things. They just change the part that seems defective. It is good, in a way. You can be sure that the problem will, in most cases, be completely eliminated. The replacement will be new usually and should function well for a long time. However for out-of-warranty repairs, this method of replacements can prove to be quite expensive. Search for a camera repair shop and not a service center if the damage is huge or the replacements too expensive. In the end, you are the best judge as to how much is justifiable and how much is too expensive.
What to do on purchasing a new product
Check it thoroughly at the shop itself. Get the warranty card completed, which in most cases includes filling in the details, signature and dealer’s stamp. Get a proper receipt of the payment made.
I discourage purchasing expensive items online. Sometimes the products may be gray market products and without a warranty. There are chances that they may get damaged while getting transported, which is a clear setting where warranty is denied. With the falling standards of service with online shops and the rising numbers of complaints that I keep reading, I prefer purchasing photography equipment from neighborhood stores, even if they seem slightly more expensive.
If there is an offer going on and you happen to get something free, find out about its warranty too. Usually, such freebies do not have any warranty.
Lastly, if you plan to take an extended warranty in the future, negotiate for it now itself. You just might get it for free.
On reaching your home –
- Take a photograph of the documents or scan them. Upload these to your cloud storage or email them to yourself. These can come in use when you are away on a trip and a problem occurs. Make a note of the serial number too in case it is not clearly visible in the documents.
- If a thermal printer was used to print the receipt or credit/debit card payment, get the document photocopied. The thermal print fades with time. Try to get the photocopy signed and stamped.
- Many manufacturers provide an option to register your new acquisition online. Check the manufacturer’s site and register your purchase.
I hope I have been able to decrypt the small print in warranty documents. For any doubts, feel free to write to me.
How do I know if the camera that I have purchased online is grey market or not?
Since you have already purchased it, the easiest way to check is from the nearest authorized service center. Take all the documents that you have got with the camera and get it checked. Here are the links to some information about gray market products from Nikon and Canon –